Friday, January 16, 2015

Would your community miss you if your church closed?

I recently read a business blog that asked if the community would miss the reader's business if it closed.  Several years ago one of the big box stores opened in our community to the excitement of the majority of people.  Many of the smaller Mom and Pop stores in the community were forced to close.  One supermarket near our house remained open for several years but one day announced that it would soon be closing.  I told the owner I hated to see that happen, and he explained that he had done the calculations and knew to the month when his store would begin going in the red.  He simply could not compete with the prices the big box store offered.

His store did close and he began another career.  Although that occurred over a dozen years ago people are still talking about how much they miss that supermarket.  Maybe the selection wasn't as large and the prices were slightly higher, but the service was much better than anything the big box store offered, and there was a certain satisfaction in doing business with someone local who was involved in local activities.  His store is definitely missed.

Would your community miss your church if it closed?  I think this is a great question for a church to answer, but it's not one that should be answered too quickly.  Any answer you give must be supported by facts to support it.

Several years ago I was meeting with a pastor search committee of a small, rural church.  The church was located on a county road well off the highway.  It was dark.  The church had no directional signs once one left the highway and many of the county road signs were missing as well.  I finally stopped at a house and asked where the church was located.  No one knew.  I drove to another house and asked for directions.  They didn't know either.  About 15 minutes later I stumbled onto the church parking lot.  The church was located about a mile from both of those houses.  Would they miss that church if it closed?  I doubt they would even know it had closed.

What is your church doing to make itself known in the community?  What ministries does your church offer the community?  A business term that is popular today is Top-of-the-Mind Awareness (TOMA).  This means that when someone needs a service or product, the first provider of that service or product that comes to your mind has the highest TOMA.  Where would your church rate on the list of local church TOMA?

A common mistake is that people assume that the largest church in a community will have the highest TOMA, but that isn't necessarily the case.  A small church, if it is serving its community well, can have a very high TOMA as well. and for those people who prefer the smaller church it could even have a higher TOMA than the larger church.

If you want to impact your community for Jesus Christ, you need to minister to it in such a way that your church would be missed if it ever had to close its doors.  If you do, it's highly unlikely that you will ever have to worry about closing!

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